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Getting It Together: First, Free Up a Little Time

Confession: I often try to do too much. If you feel like you’re in the same boat (or just plain have too much to do)—and you’d like to feel more on top of things, this post is for you. It’s the start of a series designed to help you systematically work toward “getting it together.” (You are in charge of defining what “it” means.)

10-21 Dungeness River Bridge

Baby Step 1: Find Time to Walk Toward the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Your Grandmother’s Advice. Let’s just stipulate that the following are important nearly all the time:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat well. At least…
    • Eat a balanced diet (especially, eat breakfast)
    • Don’t stuff yourself
    • Eat good-for-you foods & avoid the obviously-bad-for-you foods
  • Count your blessings (be grateful for what you have)
  • Do unto others as you would have them…
  • [More things like that here: your grandmothers’ advice may vary….]

So, good. Now what?

Baby Step 1. Free up some time. If you feel like you want to “get it together,” that means making a change (maybe more than one). Making changes takes time. If your whole day is scheduled or otherwise filled up, then how to do something different? You have to make a little room.

Here are some possible places to find a little or even a lot of time….

  • Pause the hobbies. Put a hobby or a (non-lucrative) side business on hold. (Over time, non-lucrative businesses are, by definition, hobbies.)
  • Pause or limit volunteer work. If you made a promise to help, you don’t want to let anybody down. But if you can take a break while getting something else in order, great.
  • Stop saying “yes” every time someone asks you to do something. Of course you’re great at whatever it is, but consider thinking about it overnight before you agree to a new “opportunity.” (Your boss may have the expectation that you’ll say “yes,” and possibly rightly so. Still, think about it.)
  • Stop watching (so much) TV. Never watch it live (a recorded “hour” of TV is about 42 minutes without the commercials). The average American watches between 20 and 40 hours of live and/or recorded TV a week. If this is you, just think what you can do with that much time.
  • Reduce time on Facebook, Twitter, etc. You don’t have to be an online hermit, but you can schedule time each day or week. Avoid falling into Facebook and accidentally coming out an hour later, 17 clicks from where you started.
  • Unsubscribe from fabulous “deals” that show up in email. Online shopping can capture an hour before you know it.
  • Stop shopping, except for groceries.
  • Create a place for essential items so you don’t waste 20 minutes looking for your keys, glasses, wallet. Always know where they are.
  • Figure out the necessary things you must or most want to do, for example: eat, sleep, get ready for work, actually work, spend time with family and friends, exercise, go to church. Some can happen in tandem, like family conversations over dinner or walking with a friend.
  • Make routines for repetitive tasks, for example: getting ready in the morning, cleaning the kitchen, or processing email.
  • Block time on your calendar so tasks don’t get away from you. Otherwise, if you have 3 hours, that 1-hour task will expand to fit the available time.
  • Work at home one or more days a week and save the time you would have spent commuting.
  • Take advantage of delays. Have something to read in case you get stuck in traffic or others are late for a meeting.
  • Use accidental time. Don’t ignore the 10 minutes while you’re waiting for someone else to get ready to go. Straighten something. Empty the dishwasher. Make a list for later. Or just savor the moment. That’s a good thing, too.

Pick one great thing, or a list of things, that you could accomplish “if you only had time.” Use that great thing or great list as motivation to find time. Time to make a change or two.

Stay tuned for the next “Baby Step” toward “getting it together.” In the meantime, choose some ways to find more time in your life.

You may have some other good ways to “find” or save time. I’d love to hear from you.


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